Tour de France tech: Adjustable seatposts and funky graphics

Plus new Canyon TT bike and Bontrager Aeolus wheels

Intriguing FSA seatpost adjusts saddle height on the fly


The mountain bike community has now fully embraced the concept of height-adjustable seatpost but surely it doesn’t have an application on the road, right? Think again.

Ivan Basso’s (Liquigas) Cannondale SuperSix Evo was topped with a wild looking seatpost that may be released by FSA at some point judging by the markings. Simply grabbing and rotating the ribbed and detented collar adjusts the saddle height in stepped increments without producing any noticeable play between the upper and lower halves or slipping. 

That’s all well and good but why bother? According to a team mechanic, Basso prefers a slightly lower height for smoother pedaling in high-cadence situations and a slightly taller one when he has to produce more power at a lower rpm. Of course this unusual seatpost is heavier than the ultralight carbon fiber or aluminum options normally used by Liquigas but the new ultralight SuperSix Evo frames leave enough wiggle room that Basso’s bike is still barely UCI-legal (unfortunately, we didn’t have a chance to weigh it).

Lest you start to think this is just the start of a hot new trend, we should point out that Basso was the only one on the team using the unique seatpost but we’ll keep vigil over the next few days.

Canyon customize the fleet and stiffen things up – plus a sneak peek at a new TT concept

Canyon provided custom painted Tour de France bikes to four members of the Omega Pharma-Lotto team: Jurgen Van Den Broeck, Philippe Gilbert, Andre Greipel and Jurgen Roelandts. 

Jurgen Roelandts' (Omega Pharma-Lotto) Canyon Ultimate CF SLX gets the visage of the Incredible Hulk on his bike
Jurgen roelandts’ (omega pharma-lotto) canyon ultimate cf slx gets the visage of the incredible hulk on his bike.:
James Huang/

Jurgen Roelandts – Incredible Hulk

The bikes of Van Den Broeck, Greipel and Roelandts all followed a similar theme, using the same basic layout as the standard team issue bikes but with black base colors, different accent stripe colors, and a personalized image on the side of the down tube-head tube junction. Van Den Broeck’s machine was decorated with a snarling leopard, Greipel’s bike wore his usual menacing gorilla, and Roelandts’ rig sported the visage of the Incredible Hulk. All three got custom headset top caps, too.

Philippe Gilbert (Omega Pharma-Lotto) gets a more personalized checkerboard theme on his Canyon Aeroad CFs
Philippe gilbert (omega pharma-lotto) gets a more personalized checkerboard theme on his canyon aeroad cfs.:
James Huang/

Philippe Gilbert’s checkerboard themed bike

Gilbert’s main and spare bikes were a little more elaborate, however, with checkerboard themes owing to his ‘Fast Phil’ nickname. One of his Canyon Aeroad CF bikes wore simple slate grey graphics but the other was finished in more appropriate red and yellow to celebrate his recent Belgian national road championship win (we’ll have a more detailed look at Gilbert’s bike soon, complete with specs and measurements).

Gracing the front end of Omega Pharma-Lotto sprinter Andre Greipel's bike is a menacing gorilla
Gracing the front end of omega pharma-lotto sprinter andre greipel’s bike is a menacing gorilla.:
James Huang/

Andrei Greipel The Gorilla

Greipel received one additional modification that was purely functional: a custom, extra-stiff, forged aluminum stem to help bolster the front end. The extension shape was mostly lifted from the team’s standard Ritchey WCS 4-Axis 44 except for a slightly more generous width (and the four-bolt faceplate actually is a Ritchey item) but the steerer clamp is much taller than usual and sports three pinch bolts instead of two.

Wall thickness is much greater than usual, too. Not surprisingly, there’s a weight penalty to pay for the added stiffness with Greipel’s special stem weighing in at a hefty 260g – a small price to pay in hindsight if he wins a stage in this year’s Tour.

Canyon company founder Roman Arnold also gave us a sneak peek at the company’s new time trial bike that will be shown at this year’s Eurobike show. Arnold gave us the preview only on the condition of complete secrecy as to its details but suffice to say it’s a major departure from Canyon’s current Speedmax CF and the striking form incorporates a healthy dose of component integration.

Tucked safely away inside a Canyon company van and under a blanket was a prototype time trial bike that will be fully revealed at Eurobike. We got a sneak peek and it's definitely a major departure from the company's current Speedmax CF
Tucked safely away inside a canyon company van and under a blanket was a prototype time trial bike that will be fully revealed at eurobike. we got a sneak peek and it’s definitely a major departure from the company’s current speedmax cf.:
James Huang/

He did let us shoot a couple of images of the rear end of the prototype as it peeked out from beneath a blanket inside a company van, though. From those, you can at least clearly see that there’s no conventional rear brake, the surfaces are notably more angular, and the telescoping seatpost is apparently held in place with a hidden binder. The design of that post suggests that it will be compatible with both standard saddle rails and Selle Italia’s clever Monolink system.

Leopard Trek head for the hills aboard new shallow-section Bontrager carbon tubulars

Bontrager debuted these new 36mm-deep Aeolus 3.0 carbon tubulars on the bikes of Leopard Trek
Bontrager debuted these new 36mm-deep aeolus 3.0 carbon tubulars on the bikes of leopard trek.:
James Huang/

Trek team liaison Ben Coates had mentioned to us several months ago that the company’s new wide-profile Aeolus 5.0 signified only the beginning of a new complete family of carbon wheels designed in-house and the next variant has now made an appearance here at the Tour de France.


Fitted to the bike of Andy Schleck (Leopard Trek) was a set of clearly labeled Bontrager Aeolus 3.0 wheels with a similar 25mm width at the tire bed but a lighter 36mm depth that should not only be more welcome in the big mountains but also easier to manage in strong winds. The rest of the wheelset looked to be carried over from the 50mm-deep version, including Bontrager carbon-bodied front and rear hubs.